34. Rawa Blues Festival

October 10th-11th 2014

PNSRO

Irek Dudek & Polish National Symphonic Radio Orchestra, Eric Bibb (USA)

Main stage, Spodek Hall

Robert Randolph & The Family Band (USA), Blind Boys of Alabama, Shawn Holt & The Teardrops (USA), Fox-Street All Stars (USA), To Rysiek Riedel, Sebastian Riedel & Cree Tribute, Grzegorz Kapołka Trio, Paweł Szymański

Small stage, Spodek Hall

Juicy Band, Cotton Wing, Jaw Raw, The Plants, Instant Blues, SKL Blues, Fingerstyle Bob & The Blues Society, Jerry’s Fingers

34th edition of Rawa Blues lasted two days again. The day before the concert in „Spodek”, fans could meet the blues at the brand new venue in Katowice, hardly associated with that genre. 

The concert at the seat of NOSPR (National Orchestra of The Polish Radio) looked rather like the official gala than the typical blues concert. 

The first day of the festival was launched by Eric Bibb set, who sang with his acoustic guitar and with the Norwegian guitarist Knut Reiersrud as the companion. Bibb mixed the traditional songs, own tunes and country blues themes. Knut Reiersrud enriched the music with his slide technique, harp parts and back vocals, that complemented the deep voice of Bibb. Over 2 thousand spectators (sold out event) reacted enthusiastically.

Although the main hero of the first day of the festival became Irek Dudek. It was a really important event in his whole career. He did earlier some projects with the string quartet or jazz big band, but then he performed for the first time with his own band and the symphonic orchestra.

Dudek began with energetic tracks „Everyday I Have The Blues” i „Tell Me Pretty Baby”.  The orchestra – conducted by Krzesimir Dębski – shared quickly his impetus. The next song in the setlist - „Everything Must Change” - presented with a touch of swing, had even more spectacular effect. Well – knowns tunes in Dębski's arrangements got new colours and quality, without losing its original ease and finesse. After surprising „House Of The Rising Sun” version and blues track „From Alojz To Alex”, Dębski and Dudek presented the violin unisono. Later – in „Something Must Have Changed”, Dudek showed his vocal and harp skills, Dębski accompanied with the violin.

The last part of the concert turned into the blues party with two conductors.  The guitarist Grzegorz Kapołka and the pianist Tomasz Pala also joined with their solos. The audience forced the musicians to play two encores. What's important: the artists managed to balance between the high music level and  entertaining elements.

On the 11th of October Rawa Blues came back to „Spodek”. Before midday, the Off Stage started, its line – up contained 7 bands, chosen from over 70 that sent their materials. The best ones were: Cotton Wing from Gdańsk (nice mixture of blues and soul); Jaw Raw (playing in a perfect harmony, a bit jazzy band), Instant Blues from Zielona Góra (tradtional blues) and Fingerstyle Bob & Blues Society from Poznań (played their brand new stuff). 

The Main Stage concert was inaugurated by SKL Blues. This group from Kłobuck won the Internet vote. The other Polish artists were: Paweł Szymański (still vivid and credible, played at Rawa after longer break), Cree (celebrated their 20th anniversary, had great applause) and  Grzegorz Kapołka Trio (showed tasty instrumental set with the amazing guitar skills of the leader). 

Next, the spectators welcomed the young American band named Fox Street All Stars. Those guys proved, that connecting blues, rock, funk and jazz improvisation could compose the original stuff, both traditional and modern. 

The great expectations accompanied the appearance of Shawn Holt and the Teardrops. Rawa fans remember well the concert of Magic Slim – Shawn's father – in 1997. This confrontation  with father's legend was succesful for the youngster. Shawn presented more advanced guitar skills, expressive vocal, consequently the whole band played better and more dynamic.

During the stars performance the number of spectators reached the peak – that year there were over four thousand blues fans in „Spodek”.  Next show belonged to the legendary band Blind Boys of Alabama. In the beginnig they had problems with the sound quality, but „People Get Ready” showed the perfect vocal harmonies, especially the clear and loud vocal of the eldest  member of the band – Jimmy Carter. Singers and the band performed track such as: „I’ll Find A Way”, „Take Your Burden To The Lord”, „Rainbow In The Cloud”. In „I Shall Not Be Moved” Robert Randolph joined the band, invited by Carter. He played the pedal steel guitar, enriching the songs so much. The big surprise for fans was the mixture of two famous tunes: „Amazing Grace” and „House Of The Rising Sun”. The character of their show changed in its second part: from gospel to more entertaining. During one of the songs, Carter entered the crowd, led by the manager of the band. Blind Boys of Alabama played „Shake Your Hip, Use Me Up” and charming „I Can’t Stand The Rain”. The whole performance impressed blues fans and brought Afroamerican religious music into the festival. 

But that was only the introduction to the real rhythm explosion, that was provided by another star - Robert Randolph & the Family Band. From the first bar, the group of seven persons filled its music with the unusual concentration of eurythmics, syncopation and polirhythmic invention. Randolph – playing his pedal still guitar – seemed to be in shaman trance. The encore – Led Zeppelin „Whole Lotta Love” – whipped the spectators into frenzy. It would difficult to classify that concert as the blues one. We had the successful trial of blending the whole, rich Afroamerican tradition.

After such a large dose of emotions and several hours of concerts, some spectators left „Spodek”. Only devoted Dżem fans stayed in the venue to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Ryszard Riedel death. Tribute To Rysiek Riedel was prepared by Leszek Winder and Sebastian Riedel. Several top Silesian musician revitalised a few classic Riedel songs. For the majority of blues fans, Rawa 2014 AD ended after midnight. 

The last act of the festival happened at Novotel's club, where a lot of musicians showed their hidden talents during jam session. For example, Robert Randolph turned out to be a gifted drummer, but the most durable players became Grzegorz Kapołka and Krzesimir Dębski. 

Robert Randolph & The Family Band

When Robert Randolph talks about his new album, Lickety Split, a few words come up over and over—"joy," "freedom," "energy." Which is no surprise, really, because those are the same things that immediately spring into a listener's mind when these twelve tracks from the virtuoso pedal steel guitarist and his longtime accompanists, the Family Band, explode out of the speakers.

The Blind Boys of Alabama

This is one of the longest running gospel bands on the market. The Blind Boys of Alabama is a six-time Grammy Award winner and a four-time winner of Dove Award - the highest form of appreciation in the gospel world. Three successive presidents of the United States Bill Clinton (in 1994), George W. Bush (in 2004) and Barack Obama (in 2010) invited the Boy's to play in the White House. After seven decades of their presence in the music business The Blind Boys of Alabama have gained the top music brand status. With their rich history and accomplishments they constitute a living monument of the sacred culture of the African-Americans.

Shawn Holt & The Teardrops

Shawn Holt is a representative of the younger generation of the Chicago blues players. The son of the legendary bluesman Magic Slim, who for 35 years led the band The Teardrops. The unique sound and explosive energy of the Magic Slim band is duly presented by Shawn Holt & The Teardrops.

Irek Dudek & Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra

Ireneusz Dudek is one of the most recognizable figures in the world of the Polish blues. He is a composer, singer and instrumentalist playing the harmonica, violin and guitar. He is a precursor of symphonic blues.
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra is a showcase of Polish culture internationally - an ambassador and promoter of Polish music. Dudek together with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra will set off the inaugural concert of the 34 Rawa Blues Festival at the new premises of the Orchestra in Katowice (Concert on Friday, 10.10.2014, Narodowa Orkiestra Symfoniczna Polskiego Radia in Katowice)

Eric Bibb

An artist of extraordinary musical achievements cultivating the African-American traditions.
Among the sounds of Eric Bibb's music you can year country blues, gospel, jazz and folk. The artist merges all of those genres into a spiritual but not pious, traditional yet contemporary sophisticated mix. (Concert on Friday, 10.10.2014, Narodowa Orkiestra Symfoniczna Polskiego Radia in Katowice)

The Fox Street All-Stars

Listening to the rough, beautifully dirty vocals of Jon "Skippy" Howard accompanied with lazy rhythm and whining guitar sounds it may seem that we are dealing with a southern band. The truth is the quintet Fox Street All Stars comes from Denver, Colorado.

Concert for Ryszard

Concert in memory of Ryszard Riedel has been prepared by guitarist and composer Leszek Winder. The performance will involve famous Silesian bluesmen including Krzysztof Głuch, Andrzej Rusek, Michał Giercuszkiewicz, Irek Dudek.

Sebastian Riedel & Cree

The band was formed in 1993 in Tychy. The founder of the band was a then 16-year-old guitarist and vocalist Sebastian Riedel, the son of the renowned Polish artist Ryszard Riedel (the singer of the band Dżem). Ryszard Riedel also came up with the name his sons' band.

Grzegorz Kapołka Trio

His long-term activity on the music scene, composing of works marked by a large span of stylistic interests - from blues and rock to jazz, and above all his uncommon qualities as an instrumentalist have made him one of the best guitarists in Poland.